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Fact Sheet 33 - Family Stream Migration: Child

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The family stream of Australia's Migration Programme enables the reunion of immediate family members, including dependent children, adopted children, stepchildren, and orphan relatives.

While children can often be included in the application of their migrating parents, they sometimes migrate separately. In this case they may apply for one of the child category visas.

This fact sheet covers in general terms, the requirements for child category visas including the Permanent Child (subclass 802 and 101), Adoption (subclass 102), Orphan Relative (subclass 837 and 117) and the Dependent Child (Temporary) (subclass 445) visas.

General information on the family stream is available.
See: Fact sheet 29Overview of Family Stream Migration

Child visa

An applicant for a Child (subclass 802 and 101) visa must be the child, adopted child* or stepchild** of an Australian citizen, a holder of a permanent visa or an eligible New Zealand citizen, and must be sponsored by that parent or that parent's current partner.

An applicant must be under 25 years of age. An applicant who has turned 18 years of age must be a full-time student and financially dependent on the parent supporting the application. These requirements do not apply to a child who can provide medical evidence of having a disability that stops them from working, which is why they are still financially dependent on their parent.

The child must not be married, engaged to be married or living in a de facto partner relationship. If aged 18 years or over, the child must never have been married or have had a partner.

* A child applying outside Australia who was adopted after their parent became an Australian citizen, a holder of a permanent visa or an eligible New Zealand citizen, should apply for an Adoption (subclass 102) visa.

** A stepchild can only be granted a Child (subclass 802 or 101) visa if they are under 18 years of age, and their parent is no longer a partner of the sponsoring step parent, and that sponsoring step parent has legal responsibility for the child.

Orphan relative visa

An applicant for an Orphan Relative (subclass 837 or 117) visa must have no parents to care for them because their parents are dead, permanently incapacitated or of unknown whereabouts.

The child must have an Australian relative who is their brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew. The child must be sponsored by either the Australian relative or that person's current cohabiting partner. The Australian relative, or their partner, must be an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen who is aged 18 years and over and must be settled in Australia.

The child must be under 18 years of age at the time of applying for the visa, and must not be married or living in a de facto partner relationship.

Note: The applicant must not have turned 18 years of age at the time of application lodgement.

Adoption visa

In Australia, the processing of intercountry adoptions is the responsibility of state and territory central adoption authorities such as departments of family services. These authorities manage arrangements for adopting children from outside Australia including assessing and approving prospective adoptive parents. The Australian Government, through the Attorney-General's Department, has the responsibility for managing existing programmes and negotiating new intercountry adoption programmes with other countries.

We provide advice only on how a child can be granted a visa to enter Australia.

For the Adoption (subclass 102) visa, the child must be under 18 years of age when the visa application is finalised and the child must be sponsored by their adoptive parent or their prospective adoptive parent.

If the child was adopted before the sponsor became an Australian citizen, a holder of a permanent visa or an eligible New Zealand citizen, the child should apply for a Child (subclass 802 or 101) visa.

The Adoption (subclass 102) visa is for a child who is outside Australia and who has been adopted or is in the process of being adopted by an Australian citizen, a holder of a permanent visa or an eligible New Zealand citizen, and the adoption has the prior approval of an Australian state or territory adoption authority.

Exception: Where an Australian citizen, a holder of a permanent visa or an eligible New Zealand citizen, who is resident outside Australia, adopts a child according to the laws of the child's home country, at least one adoptive parent must have been residing outside Australia for more than 12 months before  the child's visa application is lodged. That residence outside Australia must not have been contrived for the purpose of adopting the child.

More information on  the types of adoption recognised for migration and citizenship purposes for a  child adopted outside Australia is available.
See: Fact sheet 36Adopting Children Overseas

Dependent child visa

A Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa is a temporary visa.

A dependent child, whose parent holds a temporary Partner (subclass 820 or 309) visa or a Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa, can apply for a Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa so that they can be added to their parent's permanent Partner (subclass 801 or 100) visa application.

To be granted a Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa, the child must not be engaged, married or in a de facto partner relationship, and also must be either under 18 years of age or financially dependent on their parent

A Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa enables a child to travel to or remain in Australia for the same period as their parent's temporary Partner (subclass 820 or 309) visa.

After a child is granted a Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa, the child should then apply for the same permanent partner visa as their parent. The child must be granted the Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa, and subsequently apply to be added to their parent's visa application before the permanent Partner (subclass 801 or 100) visa application is finalised. If this is not done, the child's Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa will cease when their parent's permanent visa application is finalised and the child may not have any other visa options open to them.

Parental responsibility (custody) requirement

Whenever an applicant is under 18 years of age, requirements relating to child parental responsibility (that is, custody) must be met. This means that if there is any person other than the sponsor who can legally determine where the child should live, permission for the child to migrate must be obtained from that person. Alternatively a court order may be provided that allows the child to migrate.

Health and character requirements

Like all migrants, child applicants must be assessed against Australia's health and character requirements.
See:
Fact sheet 22The Health Requirement
Fact sheet 79The Character Requirement

Sponsorship limitation and best interests of the child

Where an applicant for a child category visa is under 18 years of age, the sponsorship cannot be approved (except in very limited circumstances) where the sponsor or the sponsor's spouse or de facto partner (if they have one) has a conviction or an outstanding charge for an offence against a child. The applicant will also need to satisfy the requirement that there is no compelling reason to believe that the grant of the visa would not be in the best interests of the applicant.

In order to assess the sponsorship application and the best interests of the child requirement, sponsors of children under 18 years of age, and their spouse or de facto partner, are required to submit an Australian Federal Police (AFP) national police check and/or foreign police certificate/s, depending on their circumstances. If the sponsor, or their partner, has spent a total of 12 months or more in Australia since turning 16 years of age, that person must provide an AFP national police check. They must also provide police certificates from each country in which they have spent a total of 12 months or more in the last 10 years since turning 16 years of age.
See: AFP National Police Checks

Assurance of Support

An Assurance of Support (AoS) is a legal commitment by a person to repay to the Australian Government any recoverable social security payments made by Department of Human Services (DHS) to those covered by the assurance.

An AoS is also a commitment to provide financial support to the person applying to migrate, so that they will not have to rely on any government forms of support.

The assurance comes into effect from the day the assuree (migrant) arrives in Australia, or the grant of a relevant visa to remain in Australia.

An AoS is required only if the department requests  a child, an adoption or orphan relative visa  applicant to provide an AoS because the applicant has been identified as being a risk of becoming  a charge on the Australian welfare system.  DHS is responsible for processing all AoS assessments.

More information about the AoS is available.
See: Fact sheet 34Assurance of Support

Limits on further applications

There are specific provisions to limit the potential for unsuccessful applicants in Australia to continually delay their departure from Australia by lodging successive applications.

A child who has had a visa refused or cancelled since last entering Australia can only be granted a Child (subclass 802) or Orphan Relative (subclass 837) visa if they have become a dependent child or an orphan relative since that visa was refused or cancelled.

In addition, a child who has had a visa refused or cancelled since last entering Australia and who is applying for either one of these visas must be under 25 years of age (unless claiming to be incapacitated for work due to disability) and must provide a completed and signed form 40CH Sponsorship for a child to migrate to Australia.
See: Form 40CH (538KB PDF file)

Processing priorities

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has issued directions and guidance to migration officers on the order of priority for processing family stream applications.

Highest processing priority is given to child category visa applicants, partners and fiancés.
See: Fact sheet 37Processing Priorities for Family Stream Migration

Other information

More information on applying for child category visas, including application forms, is available in the Child Migration booklet. This is available on the department's website.
See: Booklet 2 – Child Migration (542KB PDF file)

Fact Sheet 33. Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.
Last reviewed December 2013.

Last reviewed Wednesday 27 August 2014